In Bondage to Self-Definition (aka, ‘sin’)

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By Pastor Mark Anderson

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Who am I?  This most basic of questions demands a response and Full of Hot Air by Josh Sommersevery human being makes one. Humans answer this question largely by determining their own identity: I am who I choose to be. Yet our insistence on taking life into our own hands is easily distorted and becomes defining of what the Scriptures call ‘sin’ – that willful insistence on resolving every issue down to what I want.

The culture says that we are bundles of largely unrealized wonderfulness only inhibited by the myriad injustices foisted on us by others (who are, apparently, not so wonderful).

The Bible reveals God’s assessment of the human to us. The defining word regarding what it means to be human does not rightly derive from us but the One who created us…from God. And God says we are willful sinners, deserving of His wrath, in need of repentance and forgiveness. Small wonder humans flee from this God of wrath for all they are worth, preferring to “re-imagine” God in kinder, gentler forms.

If, however, there is no need to talk about the wrath of God, then there is not much need to talk about the sin that incurs the wrath. But this avoidance is no answer to the real problem of sin and all it’s consequences.

Christianity is incoherent without the idea of sin. There can be no good news of the Gospel without first understanding the bad news of sin. The mission of Jesus makes no sense if we remove such concepts from out thinking.

Jesus made it clear that the reason he came to earth was to save sinners. For example, as he said in all three Synoptic Gospels: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”. Take away the doctrine of sin and we take away the doctrine of the Incarnation. Indeed, we take away the entire message of the New Testament.

Because we are born in the darkness of sin, we assume our blindness to be life in the light. But Christ has come to give us the new birth that we might walk in the “true light”, Christ Himself. When we persist in our self-defining intransigence, we remain in our sins. When Christ opens our eyes by His amazing grace, we see ourselves as God sees us…as sinners in need of His mericful love and forgiveness.

 

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It seems to me that there is a great problem with many Christians, and in so many churches that have long ago passed the problem of sin ( when they accepted Jesus), and have moved on to other, more important things.

I think that our sinfulness needs to be front and center, all the time, otherwise forgiveness (the gospel) just…goes away, and the religious life of ‘doing’ takes over.

What do you think?

 

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. Thanks to Josh Sommers and Flickr for the artwork

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses

  1. God’s primary work is to be gracious and merciful. But, it needs to have an object to work on–our sinfulness. That’s why His “alien work” of wrath that emanates from His perfection and justice.

    Without the sin and the alien work of wrath, we’d just have a nice grandfatherly figure who gives us whatever we want but to whom we’d have no accountability.

    Come to think of it, though, that’s kind of the god that most of us have either reinvented, or would prefer to have if we could.

  2. “Come to think of it, though, that’s kind of the god that most of us have either reinvented, or would prefer to have if we could.”

    Ain’t that the truth!

    I see it in myself all the time.

    Thanks, Jonathan.

  3. I agree, some Christians fall into that trap of thinking that once they’re saved, they don’t need to worry about sin or repent of it. John Owen should be required reading in every Christian’s home, particularly what he has to say about the mortification of sin (well, really, the Apostle Paul said it first, Owen just reiterated it).

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